Over the weekend, Inside the U published an article where they state a source has informed them that Vice Mayor Michael Mena’s boss, John Ruiz, is seeking to fund a UM Football stadium at the site of Coral Gables Senior High School.
Ruiz and his partner, former Coral Gables Vice Mayor Frank C. Quesada, were involved in the controversial purchase of the surface parking lot at 350 Greco Avenue from the City of Coral Gables for $3.25 million.
Mena was forced to recuse himself following a Gables Insider article about the ownership group being his employers.
According to Inside the U, “the source says the Ruiz family already owns an acre lot across from Havana Harry’s restaurant, which is on Le Jeune Rd. in Coral Gables, and the vision for that lot is for it to be could be an eight-story garage for additional parking.”
This is in total contrast to the vision painted by the City to residents, where residents were told that this would be part of an office building where these parking spaces would be incorporated to the office building’s garage.
Coral Gables Senior High School
Inside the U adds, “the source says that Ruiz is currently exploring other locations to build a new Coral Gables High School before starting on the stadium project.”
However, sources at Miami-Dade County Public Schools said that the school district would never consider the sale of Coral Gables Senior High School, in which the district is currently embarked in a $43 million renovation project, which is set to be completed in 2024.
City of Coral Gables
Gables Insider reached out to the City asking if “John Ruiz or any of his representatives, including Vice Mayor Michael Mena and former Vice Mayor Frank Quesada, been in contact with anyone on staff regarding the purchase and construction of a stadium on the property of Coral Gables Senior High School?”
The City’s response was that “the City Manager and Mayor have not been approached regarding the stadium issue.”
Such a plan would require the sale of the property, along with City zoning changes and approvals of a stadium adjacent to a residential neighborhood.
Ruiz Confirms Plans
Ruiz confirmed his intentions on Twitter in the early hours of Monday morning. Ruiz wrote, “We will discuss details of UM Stadium. We will have special guests. The Ruiz Family intention is for any stadium end up being a win win for everyone including Coral Gables Senior High School. I have been donating to Coral Gables Senior High School for years. 100% behind CGSH!” (See Tweet). In separate tweets, he added that the stadium would be “Fully retractable like the Marlins Stadium.” His final tweet on this issue stated that, “we are open to other locations. We feel this location is ideal for many reasons. However, Coral Gables Senior High is home to many students, our firm commitment is that we will not affect any student or their families negatively.”
Following Gables insider‘s publication of this article, the city of Coral Gables released the following statement: “No one at the City of Coral Gables has had any conversations with Mr. Ruiz, and we are NOT in favor of a stadium project. In addition, a stadium is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, and Coral Gables Senior High School is a community institution which we value. This property belongs to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This proposal is speculative and one we do not support.”